It’s Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) and black Peter time in The Netherlands. Which means blackface characters in the streets, in the shops and in the schools. The Sinterklaas feast is an annual children’s event, which starts in the middle of November and peaks on the birthday of Sinterklaas on December 5th. The whole event revolves around presents, so this is retail primetime of the year.
But the black Peter character in the Sinterklaas event has become controversial over the years. Some black people feel the black Pete character is racist, but others feel the black Peter discussion is too serious. The popular opinion in Netherlands is, that the Sinterklaas feast is a part of the Dutch culture and identity, and that it should be protected at all costs. Black Peter is not a black person, he's a chimney sweeper.
Black Peter: offensive or just fun? (Dutch)
"I Like it, but somehow it's racist. Because of black Peter of course. Those things happened during slavery. It still happens."
Dutch writer Lulu Helder was the first who actively protested against the black Peter character. In the Amsterdam district Bijlmer (the urban part of Amsterdam) she pamphleted a primary school with the message: zwarte piet is zwart verdriet (black Pete is black grief). See her take on the matter here.
It obvious that black Pete is racist. Before this became an issue, black Peter often spoke broken Dutch with a Surinamese accent. After the protests black Peter gradually stopped speaking "pigeon" Dutch.
So to end, some more videos on this matter.
First: Sinterklaas in Amsterdam. This it what you might see if you happend to be in Amsterdam near the Rijksmuseum in November. P.s. There's also a black man as black Peter in this video.
Black Peter: what exactly is the problem?
"Yes, I like Sinterklaas. I celebrated it when I was a kid . Then it didn't bother anyone if it was black Pete. When you're a kid you don't look at it too seriously. It doesn't bother children. I don't think adults should make a big deal out of this. It's just fun for everyone.".
Black Peter from an American perspective